Doctors spend almost 400,000 days each year on keeping a portfolio of evidence that shows they are meeting standards, a damning new analysis shows.
The estimate comes as GPs warn they are overwhelmed and flocks of patients are being forced to wait two weeks for an appointment.
Overstretched doctors have been forced to cancel their holidays and work late into the night following a surge in cases of flu this winter.
New research, made by Pulse, suggests the ‘collating of information’ to prove they are fit to practice to the General Medical Council is only adding to their workload.
The website’s survey of 870 GPs found they spend on average 55 hours each year on the revalidation process – which determines if the doctor is competent.
New research, made by Pulse magazine, suggests that the ‘collating of information’ to prove GPs are fit to practice is only adding to their workload
This figure was then multiplied by 41,000, which is the most recent NHS headcount of the total number of doctors in the UK in September.
The news outlet for GPs then calculated this led to around 2.25 million hours – which is the equivalent of 375,833 days of work.
Doctors typically spend six hours in a surgery with patients.
The survey also revealed only 15 per cent of GPs spend less than 20 hours proving their basic skills each year – how long it’s supposed to take.
Dr Alan Woodall, founder of the pressure group GP Survival, said: ‘For every hour of learning you can add another hour of recording and collating information.
‘I spent three hours the other night going through information governance and child protection, none of which required any real learning.’
But the General Medical Council is adamant revalidation has ‘helped to strengthen the way we regulate doctors’.
It comes as the NHS is braced for unprecedented pressure this winter, with many GP surgeries overwhelmed with an influx of cases of flu.
Bosses took the controversial decision to postpone 55,000 operations to try and cope as the pressure threatens to buckle the health service.
The estimate, made by Jaimie Kaffash, comes at a time when GPs have repeatedly warned about the dangers of missing appointments.
Around 17 million appointments are missed a year – around 5 per cent of the 340 million consultations which take place annually.
YOU GET LESS TIME WITH YOUR GP THAN THAN PERUVIANS!
GP appointments in Britain are shorter than in most of the world’s other rich nations, a study revealed in November.
Patients in the UK have average appointment times of 9.22 minutes, according to Cambridge University researchers.
In a league table of appointment duration, Britain came 29th out of 67 nations, behind most other wealthy countries including the US, Australia, France, Spain, New Zealand, Canada and Japan.
Even countries such as Peru, Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland and Croatia have longer GP appointments than the UK, the study found.
Patients in the UK spend less than half the time with their GP than those in Sweden, where average appointments are 22.5 minutes, and the US, where they are 21.07 minutes.
Even Bulgarian patients get 20 minutes of face-to-face time with their GP.
GPs have repeatedly suggested they want to fine patients, probably in the region of £10, if they don’t show up to their appointments.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt called for the same punishment two years ago to encourage them to take ‘personal responsibility’ for wasting time.
The average patient now waits 13 days to see a family doctor, up from ten days in 2015, according to figures.
GP appointments in Britain are shorter than in most of the world’s other rich nations, a Cambridge University study revealed in November.
Scientists calculated patients in the UK have an average appointment time of 9.22 minutes – less than in Bulgaria, Latvia and even Peru.
Leading doctors have repeatedly slammed the ten-minute consultation, warning it is no longer fit for purpose and NHS patients are getting a raw deal.
Mr Hunt admitted in November that many GPs are on a ‘hamster wheel’ of up to 40 patients each day.
GP appointments in England were fixed at being ten minutes long until April 2014. That requirement was dropped after negotiation with doctors’ leaders.
But while GPs now have more flexibility, it remains the standard appointment time across the board.
The NHS Choices website tells patients they should expect doctors to spend an average of eight to ten minutes with them.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has previously said doctors can’t extend appointment times because they have so many patients.
JUST HOW BAD IS THE CRISIS FOR DOCTORS?
Official figures show that 41 per cent – around 10,000 doctors – are 50 or over and are expected to quit within the next five to ten years.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised golden hellos of £20,000 for trainees who take up unpopular posts in October.
Fewer young doctors are choosing to specialise as GPs, and are opting for more ‘macho’ career paths as surgeons or specialists.
It came as numbers of GPs are known to be dwindling in recent years, placing even more pressure on an over-stretched health service.
Many are retiring in their 50s, moving abroad or leaving to work in the private sector, as practices have threatened to close their waiting lists until action is taken.
This continued crisis has left many patients at risk, with staff unable to cope with the rising demand and slashed funding.
The shortage of doctors comes despite the NHS adopting a plan in April to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2021.
Mr Hunt’s pledge of £2.4 billion was said to be the answer to the staffing shortage, helping plug the growing number of vacancies.
This money was devised to lure GPs to move to the worst-hit areas of England, and to stop them from seeking another career.
Thousands of new ‘doctors on the cheap’ are also being trained to prop up the cash-strapped NHS, it emerged in June.
An army of ‘physician associates’ will work in GP surgeries and hospitals to diagnose patients, recommend treatments and perform minor procedures.
Scores of practices also believe they are working well beyond maximum capacity – feeling pressured to take on a higher workload and risk mistakes.